Constitutional Carry Pros and Cons
What is Constitutional Carry?
So, just what is Constitutional Carry? Broadly speaking, Constitutional Carry laws make it legal for citizens to carry a firearm, either openly or concealed, with no permit required. It’s important that you look into the specific state laws as they do vary slightly in each state. Some states require you to be a citizen or resident of that state, some require that you be a certain age, and most will have restrictions on where you can carry. Federal buildings, municipal buildings, and schools tend to be off-limits just about everywhere.
Life Before Constitutional Carry Laws
Prior to instituting Constitutional Carry, most states had rules and laws describing how and when you could open carry. Then there were additional rules for concealed carry. The additional rules for concealed carry usually included requiring you to complete some form of a training class that covered the laws and obligations an individual had to follow while carrying a concealed weapon, as well as a practical exam that required applicants to demonstrate their ability to safely handle and discharge a firearm. In some states, the requirement was met with an online course, while others required up to 16 hours of training.
After meeting the training requirements, individuals then had to apply for a license from a state agency which would normally require a questionnaire and a background check. Some states are referred to as “shall issue” states. Meaning if you meet the requirements, the state has to issue the license, while other states are “may issue” states. Meaning that you could still be denied at the whims of the approving authority.
Why is this an issue?
Primarily it became an issue in those “may issue” states. If state law put the sheriff's office in charge of licensing applicants and your local sheriff was anti-gun, they could make it almost impossible for you to get your permit to carry concealed. Many viewed this as an infringement on a citizen’s Second Amendment rights. Some states make it so difficult that you must prove there is an imminent threat against your life even to get a permit to own a firearm, let alone carry one.
Reciprocity can also cause issues. Most states with permitting requirements have reciprocity with other states that have similar or more in-depth training, meaning you can freely carry in both states if you have a permit in one of them. It’s inherent for the permit holder to know what states their license is good in as well as what smaller municipalities may have stricter limitations.
Pros of Constitutional Carry
Constitutional Carry laws are positive for many reasons. Citizens in these states can now exercise more of their Second Amendment rights without any sort of infringement from the state. However, that could be debated when you look at some of the caveats in certain states.
Armed citizens are a deterrent to crime. Even if you cannot see the firearms as they are being carried in a concealed fashion, criminals know there is a chance citizens are armed and may not be easy targets. If you think that criminals don’t consider this, look at where most of these crimes occur. Statistically, gun-free zones are where most firearm crimes take place, as bad guys with guns know that there are likely not many good guys with guns in these areas. When I say gun-free zones, don’t just think of schools or municipal buildings. Many malls and shopping centers have signs preventing patrons from carrying firearms.
Police response times are well documented. It’s not that the police are slow; they are considerably fast in most areas. However, they can’t be there to always respond quickly, and most of these encounters are over in minutes, if not seconds.
Cons of Constitutional Carry
As much as I am a proponent of concealed carry, I have concerns as well. My primary concern is training. By removing the licensing requirements, we have eliminated any validation of an individual's ability to safely handle that weapon and understand the proper times to employ that firearm.
Negligence and Posturing
We’ve all seen that one guy at the range that doesn’t respect his firearm. He’s not exercising proper muzzle discipline, constantly flagging nearby shooters, and repeatedly ignoring the advice of the RSO. These are the people that shoot it canted and want nothing more than to show everyone that they have a gun. These folks worry me. Are they going to pull their firearm out at an inappropriate time? Are they even going to be able to hit their target? Are they going to cause additional panic and injury? I don’t know, and it is something that concerns me.
Misidentifying the Threat
I also fear the scenario of a threatened, legally-armed individual drawing their firearm for protection in a public area and being mistaken for the actual threat by law enforcement or other legally-armed citizens. Law enforcement has to deal with this nightmare all the time. When they show up on the scene, officers sometimes have less than seconds to differentiate the good guy from the bad guy. How do they make that determination when multiple firearms are present?
My Two Cents
Look, obviously, I’m very pro-Second Amendment. I’m also very much in favor of Constitutional Carry. I believe that every person out there has an inherent right to defend themselves and others from loss of life. If criminals are out there carrying firearms, I believe I should be able to utilize the same instruments they employ to protect my safety and the safety of others. If they bring a deadly weapon (firearm, knife, baseball bat) and intend to physically harm me, I should have the right to utilize my own weapon to fend off that attack.
However, I’m also very aware that everyone (yes, everyone) should train more with their firearms and can stand to learn a thing or two about safely employing their weapons. My hope is that nobody is ever put in a situation where they need to deploy a concealed firearm, but if they must, I hope they are all well-trained and responsible.
The Second Amendment of the Constitution reads:
“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Many feel that the red tape put in place by state governments is a violation of the Second Amendment and that Constitutional Carry laws are returning previously infringed upon rights back to citizens. Only time will tell if this is a step in the right direction.
What do you think? Let us know by sharing your thoughts below.
MEET THE AUTHOR
With over two decades of experience in both civilian and military marksmanship programs, Teeps has developed a profound passion for shooting. Not only does he find great joy in introducing newcomers to the sport, but also continually seeks to expand his repertoire in the pursuit of shooting excellence.